As a fan of Tin Hifi, and an owner of most of their products, I have to be a little more scrutinizing with this review because I know what Tin is capable of, and at this point in their trajectory, I expect nothing but the best from them. The original T2 got me started in this hobby nearly 4 years ago, and today I consider their planar series of i.e.m.s. some of the best i.e.m.s available on the market, regardless of price. So I do hold Tin Hifi to a high Standard when they release a new product, especially when it bears the name of such an esteemed classic as the T2. And because they evoke the original T2 with this new product, I have been assessing this IEM as a comparison to the original.
The soul of the original t2 lives on in the DLC, but it’s not a direct descendant of the original. It has many of the same characteristics, such as a very clean presentation, a mid focused tuning, and excellent spacial properties. But as I switch back and forth between the DLC and the original the similarities and differences are very obvious to me. The major trade off I'm seeing here is that the T2 DLC now has better detail retrieval, at the cost of the original’s near perfect tuning.
Where the DLC is the same is the quality of the timbre, the sense of space, scale of the stage, 3D motion of the imaging, and overall immersive speaker-like feeling that the original did so well. The similarities really are striking, to the point that this feels more like a retune of the original driver, but for the improved resolution.
The bass is an improvement over the original bass which sounded great in the original already, though a little lacking in sub bass. The DLC improves on the good parts of the original bass and adds in a deep textured and very full sounding bass that beautifully meets the task for any kind of bass I throw at it. It is truly a very versatile bass that I personally think is one of the best quality basses I’ve heard in a dynamic driver i.e.m. It’s defining characteristic is that it doesn't imbue it’s own sound - it just perfectly recreates bass as the track intends. The only problem is that it is not in balance with the upper mids, so I can rarely appreciate its full glory because the mids lock me into a lower volume.
The Mids are where things get a little more complicated. First, I have to say the mid range frequencies sound absolutely stunning. They are crystal clear, smooth, engaging, detailed, and seem to float and dance around you in 3-dimensional space. They have a special kind of tone that I only hear occasionally from metal-shell iems, that seem to add slight reverb that just makes the sound feel realistic and lush. Tonally these are very similar to the original, but because of the raised upper mids and better driver speed, the mids feel even more euphoric than the original. But, while these mids are tonally and technically extraordinary, they are also hugely problematic, because they are way out of balance with the rest of the frequency response. I find myself changing the volume on nearly every track to accommodate for different instruments and vocalists that peak at the upper mids. That said, I still find myself listening to this set for hours at a time because the sound performance is so strong that the extra strain is worth it.
Treble is also more elevated than the original T2, which again is a blessing and a curse. The extension is an improvement over the original, and you do get a little more perceived detail and sparkle, which is really nice. But again it can be rather unpleasantly piercing on snares and other sounds that have quick transients. High percussion often sounds too loud, splashy, and sharp. And kick drums with sharp transients also pick up an unnatural edge because of this elevated treble. Overall, this treble is technically very good, speedy, and well extended, but hurts the overall sound, because it is louder than it needs to be.
This i.e.m. is sort of a conundrum for me. On the one hand, it hurts my ears with its bright upper mids and treble fairly frequently. On the other hand, it has such an addictive quality to the sound, that I find myself pushing past the pain. Despite the discomfort, I've been excited to put these in my ears every time I use them, even though I have to ride the volume controls when things get too intense. If this set was tuned more similarly to the original t2, this would be an absolutely market-shaking i.e.m. As it is now, it is a very technically impressive proof of concept, that will scare away more people than it will attract. But shows a lot of promise for the next T2 release, or for those who like to mod.
Tin Hifi, if you are listening, please give the people what they want: Release a variant of this set with mids and treble reduced to match the FR of the original T2, and you will finally have that worthy T2 successor that you've been chasing for so long.